Could Caitlin Clark play in the NBA? Exploring NBA rules regarding WBB players

Iowa Hawkeyes basketball star, Caitlin Clark
Iowa Hawkeyes basketball star Caitlin Clark

Iowa Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark made many college basketball fans sit up and take notice with her extraordinary showing during March Madness, leading to a loaded question being asked.

Could she really suit up and play in the NBA?


Can Caitlin Clark play in the NBA?

Technically, no specific NBA rule prohibits women from playing in the NBA. In 1969, Denise Rife Long was selected by Franklin Mieuli, the owner of the San Francisco Warriors, in the 13 round of the NBA draft.

Then-NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy vetoed the pick, arguing that women and players straight from high school were not eligible to be drafted into the league, although it was not a written rule.

Only one other woman, Lusia Harris, was drafted into the NBA, and unlike Long, her pick was not voided. She was selected No. 137 overall by the New Orleans Jazz in the 1977 draft, although she declined the opportunity to try out.

So, yes, Caitlin Clark could technically play in the NBA, but there are factors like physicality and biology to consider, which would make it nigh on impossible to execute.


What the analysts say about Caitlin Clark

Clark obliterated the record books with her showing in the NCAA tournament, where she became the first male or female player ever to record a 40-point triple-double.

She did it against the Louisville Cardinals in the Elite Eight, and while the acclaim was still pouring in, she dropped a 40-point game in the Final Four matchup against South Carolina to lead her team to the championship game.

NBA legend Magic Johnson was effusive in his praise of Clark, tweeting his thoughts on the Iowa player:

"I want to give a lot of love to superstar Caitlin Clark after she recorded 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in Iowa’s win over Louisville! She’s the first player ever to record a 40-point triple-double in a men’s or women’s NCAA Tournament game.
"What makes Caitlin’s 40-point triple-double so special is the fact so many players never had one, not me, Michael Jordan, or Larry Bird!"

During preseason, hard-to-impress ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith paid Clark the highest compliment during an episode of his show "First Take."

"I'm just a Caitlin Clark fan. I think she is the Steph Curry of women's college basketball," Smith said.

Many other analysts think that she's one of the greatest college basketball players of all time, and while it would be an interesting concept to have her play in the NBA, it is likely to remain a pipe dream.

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